Exotic Plant Management Team

Crew preparing to search for invasive plants in a prairie.
Crew preparing to search for invasive plants in a prairie.


Natural resource managers face the difficulty of deciding to control invasive, non-native plants found in national parks. The decision of whether or not to take action is very complex. Park managers must first ask if a control project will protect an important park feature. Managers must also evaluate if a project can be successful. Next, biologists must accurately identify these plants in the park. Finally, using herbicides and mechanical equipment to control invasive, non-native plants requires specialized expertise. The Heartland Exotic Plant Management Team (EPMT) assists park managers in making these complex decisions and, when needed, designing and implementing control projects.

Good invasive, non-native control projects are relevant, effective, and feasible. Heartland EPMT staff work with park managers to evaluate each of these three criteria. Relevant projects clearly protect important and specific park resources. Effective projects use methods that are proven to work to control invasive, non-native plants. Feasible projects can be implemented with the available time, finances, equipment, expertise, and labor.

The Heartland EPMT works with park managers through each step of the decision-making and planning process. The EPMT staff helps park managers to evaluate field survey and risk information within the larger framework of park objectives. Next, the EPMT staff designs the specific control projects and implements the project on the ground within the park. Conservation corps teams assist with much of the labor. During field operations, map data are collected to identify the type and location of treatments. These data are later used to determine if a project is effective in reducing non-native, invasive plants. The Heartland EPMT uses this “plan-act-assess” cycle for all non-native, invasive plant control projects.

Last updated: November 3, 2017